Stop Press. High Camp Goes High

28th April, 2012

by Deidre O’Caunagh

At long last the weather was kind enough to let this meet do what it says on the tin. Although the temperature was unseasonably low the fact that IT WASN’T RAINING meant that Plan A could swing into action. With three of us having Friday off a quick stop at Shepherd’s Crag was the order of the day.  For some it was the first route outdoors of the season and both multi and single pitch classics were enjoyed. Then it was off to Seathwaite for a quick repacking of the rucsacs to head up to Sty Head in the sunshine.
What to do if you don’t have an expedition sized rucsac? Take two – who cares if you can’t see your feet. So, any member who claimed they couldn’t come on this meet on the grounds their sac wasn’t big enough needs a new excuse.  At Sty Head, tents new and old were pitched (one so new it even had the price tag still on it) and we settled down for the night amongst the mountains.











Saturday dawned bright but cold so we opted to stay warm with some scrambling on the atmospheric Napes area of Great Gable. This is the birthplace of English rock-climbing so we thought it obligatory to ’thread the needle’ behind the iconic Napes Needle and took the Climber’s Traverse to Sphinx Ridge.










Beautiful scrambling on rough rock with fine airy views down into Wasdale saw us to the foot of Westmorland’s Crag where a natural continuation in the form of the aptly named Pinnacle Ridge beckoned us towards the summit. Interestingly this route is given a grade 2 in the Scrambles guidebook and a Moderate in the FRCC selected guide – which one was going to be right? We soloed it in trainers so you can decide!










Meet cake at the top of the route and then some nice navigation practice for our aspirant MLer led us back to camp. A 5 * day out on the hill. The evening was spent with our Anglo-French team crammed into one tent comparing the backs of cup-a-soup packets. Did you know you can get French cup-a-soups with Sudoku on them? Much in-tent cordiale ensued, marred only slightly when the Meet Leader left an open penknife in the hostess’s sleeping bag… oops!

Sunday dawned ferociously cold so our brave team descended to the valley and took refuge in a coffee shop in Keswick before heading off to Penrith Wall for the afternoon until exhaustion set in. Thanks everyone for another memorable weekend of adventure. Three days of fun; climbing, scrambling and wild camping – what more could a gal wish for?

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world championship attempt

9th April, 2012

by Annie Auldrope
Firstly I’d like to apologise for the topic of this post. Pinnacle Club blogs usually report back on the wide and wonderful range of activities and exploits of our members but they are generally tied together by a theme of mountains or rocky wilderness. This blog contains none of these themes but does involve carrying a large sack so I’m including it anyway.
I think I can state with much surety that no one has ever looked at me and thought “There goes a world class athlete” but that doesn’t mean that I’ve never dreamt of standing on the winners podium and holding a glittering prize aloft while the crowd applauds. If only I could find a discipline that I could excel in…
One day I came across an article about the World Coal Carrying Championships and remembered the local news reports that appeared every year throughout my childhood. Now no one can deny that I look like I can hoike a sack of coal, I have the athletic, erm, ballast required for lifting heavy weights, a bit like a pit pony but with less ankle hair. 
For those of you who have never heard of the World Coal Carrying Championship (shame on you) they take place every Easter Monday in Gawthorpe, West Yorkshire and competitors have to carry a sack of coal (Women 20kg, men 50kg) along a course measuring 1108.25 yards (0.6mile) as fast as possible. When I say fast I mean FAST, the current women’s record is 4 minutes and 39 seconds while the men’s record is 4 minutes and 6 seconds, that’s just over 4 minutes with 8 stone on your back.
With my entry form sent off, my thoughts turned to training. I can run but not very fast and, like most people, I don’t normally run with 20 kilos of coal on my shoulders. I ramped up the speed on the treadmill at the gym and concentrated on weights for my legs but struggled to find a way of replicating the weight while running. My gym has a variety of weights but short of running with dumbbells in each hand I wasn’t sure how this was of any help. A solution came unexpectedly at the local Co-op where I saw a 20kg sack of coal in those bins they have at the front of all garages that stock over priced logs in winter. The fact that I struggled to get the sack over to my car and into the boot made me nervous to say the least. 
The first sack carrying training run required some problem solving mainly around how I was going to get the sack onto my shoulders but a careful crouch and lift in front of a garden wall and there I was with a sack of coal around my ears. A wobbly walk followed then some tentative trotting around a route I had worked out as being just under a mile. It took me 15 minutes and my legs felt like jelly for an hour afterwards
Fast forward to race day and I had a many (well, four) training runs under my belt as I stood at registration waiting to pick up my competitors t-shirt. Previous years races had been sponsored by a local brewery, very apt for a race that starts and ends at a pub. This year, the event was sponsored by the local undertakers and I optimistically tried not to link my entry to this change of tone and direction as I pulled on my official race t-shirt emblazoned with the funeral directors name.  We gathered at the start line and the coil* lorry pulled across the road so we could collect our sacks. There was a press van (the local scaffolders flat bed truck) containing some newspaper reporters, a German TV crew and some bewildered looking reporters from a Mexican TV channel who were doing a story about the Olympics. A man shouted “one, two, three GO!” and off we went up the road toward the village centre where the crowds awaited us. (* local dialect for coal).
The pack of runners quickly separated, 0.6 of a mile doesn’t give much time for tactics and pacing, you just run as fast as you can while still being able to breathe. The first half was fine and I even over took a couple of people who had already hit a wall. I slowed to a walk for a minute to gather my breath before I turned the bend that lead to a steep hill and the awaiting crowd. I wanted to make sure I didn’t run out of steam so I didn’t have to cope with the shame of not running over the finishing line in front of the crowd. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t breathing really hard by the time I dropped my sack across the finish line though. Then a woman stuck a sticker on me saying “11th” and a seven foot furry ram wearing a rugby kit handed me a bottle of water. I’m almost 100% positive this last bit is true by the way.
So I didn’t win this year but I’ll be back next year with more training and my eye on the cash prize, a podium and the mention in the Guinness book of records. And until then, I still have the title of 11th best female coal carrying champion in the WORLD.

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Rescue remedy

1st April, 2012

by Lou Weth

I’ve never been on a meet with such a load of incompetents! All I could hear was, “Nope, I can’t do it”… “Can you pull me up?”…  “Ooh, I’m stuck”. I dunno; a fine weekend in Langdale (when did that last happen?)… dry rock, blue skies, not a slug in sight… and no-one got up a single climb all weekend.

We got to know the trees around the hut very well, though: tied ourselves to ‘em, climbed ‘em, threw ourselves off and dangled, entangled from ‘em, all in an attempt to emulate the complicated zigs, zags and arrows which our instructor drew on her brand-new blackboard. I have to say she seemed quite impressed with our efforts, but at one stage combined tactics were necessary to replicate the terrors of Snatch Rescue (or was it the Counter-balance Abseil?).

Despite all this there were no actual injuries, although a few people resorted to sitting on chairs rather than hanging stoically in their harnesses. It’s hard work having an epic, you know, though you’d look rather silly carrying a chair to the crag with you under normal circumstances.

I, for my part, successfully escaped the tangle of Hitches and Knots (French, Italian and others that sounded more akin to a Harry Potter spell) and left my abandoned partner dangling while I went back to the hut for a well-earned cuppa. I use the word ‘dangling’ rather loosely, as she was in reality laid out horizontally on the lawn sunning herself.

Eventually – oh my- we progressed to real rock and amused passers-by with our antics at the foot of Raven Crag. The by now familiar whines of incompetent seconds resumed … though we were careful to have our epics close to the ground just in case gravity proved more than our newly acquired skills could cope with. We tied-off, lowered, hauled, heaved and grunted, our hapless partners gaining height inch by inch, assisted by our impeccably set-up hoists. I may not have been the only one, though, thinking we would have been better off learning “Wingardium leviosa”1.

1 Spell for levitating objects


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